Boris Johnson and Matt Hancock ‘should self-isolate for 14 days’, says Labour's Rosena Allin-Khan
Labour's Rosena Allin-Khan speaking from her home in London.
Boris Johnson and Matt Hancock should stay in self-isolation for 14 days after being diagnosed with coronavirus, according to a Labour deputy leadership challenger.
Rosena Allin-Khan, a trained accident and emergency doctor who has worked night shifts at St George’s hospital since the outbreak, said her NHS colleagues were “concerned” that politicians had vowed to “return to work after seven days without knowing how long their symptoms will last”.
And she urged the Government to ramp up its self-isolation guidance to bring it in to line with World Health Organisation (WHO) advice.
Both Mr Johnson and Mr Hancock are continuing to work in self-isolation after being diagnosed with coronavirus.
Cabinet minister Alister Jack and the Government’s Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty have also withdrawn from public contact after displaying symptoms of the illness.
According to Public Health England guidance, people who show symptoms of coronavirus must stay at home for seven days from when those symptoms first started.
Other members of a household where someone has coronavirus must stay at home for 14 days, starting from the day when the first member of the household became ill.
But Ms Allin-Khan questioned the seven-day limits for individual cases - and urged the Prime Minister and Health Secretary to spend longer out of the public eye.
She told Sky News’ Sophy Ridge: “What we really are concerned about on the frontline, and I’m hearing this from my colleagues around the country, is the fact that we have some very senior politicians who are saying that they will return to work after seven days without knowing how long their symptoms will last.
“And what we are so concerned about as health professionals, and something I’m deeply concerned about is that the advice that we are giving is actually not in keeping with what the World Health Organisation are saying.
“They are saying that you can still be able to spread the virus long after your symptoms have resolved. And they are actually saying that it is recommended that you stay self-isolated for fourteen days.”
The Tooting MP added: “So for senior politicians such as the Prime Minister and the Health Secretary to suggest that they will return to work after sevens days is a real worry for people working in the health sector like myself because we need to save lives and we need people to properly observe self-isolation processes."
The WHO currently advises 14 days of quarantine for those likely to have come into contact with other Covid-19 patients.
However, the body also says national and local governments are “best placed to advise on what people in your area should be doing to protect themselves”.
Australia and Canada are among countries that have imposed a 14-day self-isolation period on people with Covid-19 or those who have arrived in the country in recent weeks.
Pressed on whether the Prime Minister should self-isolate in Downing Street for 14 days, Ms Allin-Khan said: “Personally, I believe that the Government needs to change their advice to be in keeping with that we’re seeing around the rest of the world and what is in keeping with what the World Health Organisation has said.
“They have said that long after symptoms have resolved one can still be infectious.
“Now, if we’re doing our very best to save lives, to make sure that no unnecessary life is lost, we have to ensure that we are sticking to guidelines that make us able to save lives and for the virus not to be spread
“So I would like Boris Johnson, the Prime Minister, to self-isolate for 14 days, yes I would.”
The call from Ms Allin-Khan came as Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove revealed that the Mr Johnson - who has penned a letter on the Government’s coronavirus response for 30m households across the UK - would be chairing fresh talks on the crisis remotely on Sunday.
Mr Gove told the same programme: “The Prime Minister is in charge. On Friday morning he chaired the meeting that brings all the effort of government together, with ministers, officials, scientists and doctors and he did so from his study in Downing Street using modern technology.
“We had a videoconference and the Prime Minister was in charge, he was the person who was deriving forward our efforts on testing, making sure that we increase the number of tests available. He was the person who was interrogating the forward supply of ventilators in order to make sure that we had the capacity required.
“He was the person who was overseeing our support for frontline workers in other areas - in food production and so on in order to make sure that the life of a nation can continue.
“So he is very firmly in charge, and later this afternoon the Prime Minister will also be hosting another meeting via videoconference with the relevant ministers and officials.”